By Andrew Lamberton
(who also took the photographs at the ceremony -
and supplied the rest)
IT IS only following the dogged persistence of a
local man that a memorial has been unveiled outside Alvaston Hall, Nantwich,
to mark the occasion when six men were killed while trying to defuse a
German bomb in August 1940.
Apparently, a German bomber on his
way back from a raid on Liverpool decided to jettison his bombs over
Nantwich. One bomb fell in a field at Mile House Farm, Worleston; another at
Windy Arbour; a third at Brook Farm, Alvaston; a fourth behind 8 Birchin
Lane; and a fifth behind Dairy House Farm, Colley’s Lane, Willaston.
As some of these bombs had failed
to detonate, members of the Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Squad were called
in to defuse them. Using only the simplest of tools such as a screwdriver,
pliers and a stethoscope, they were able to successfully defuse the the
bombs at Willaston and Birchin Lane.
After successfully defusing the two bombs,
the party moved on to Brook Farm, Alvaston, to defuse the third unexploded
device. It was while they attempted to defuse this bomb, on Saturday, August
17, 1940, that it exploded prematurely and killed four members of the squad
outright and seriously wounded two others. These two later succumbed in
hospital to their injuries.
The six were: Sapper Albert Fearon,
Sgt Edward Greengrass, Sapper Michael Lambert, Sapper George Lucas, Sapper
John Perrins and Sapper Harold Thompson. It is understood that none of the men were
local, although two of them may have come from Winsford.
The deaths were hushed up at the time in case it affected morale.
FAST forward some 72 years and the local Royal
Engineers' Crewe Branch decided that it was time to mark the occasion with a
permanent memorial. After they approached Cheshire East Council, things
gathered pace and with help from local businesses - Oxley’s Funeral
Directors and Monumental Masons, Nantwich (who donated, manufactured and
installed the plaque); Ringway Jacobs and Willis Brothers, of Sandbach (who
transported and installed the memorial stone); Stancliffe
Stone (who donated the stone) and TG Builders' Merchants (who donated
building materials) - a memorial stone was installed.
Alvaston Hall provided the location
for the memorial as it was the nearest suitable site to the field where the
On Sunday, October 7, 2012, an unveiling and
dedication ceremony of the memorial took place at Alvaston Hall in front of
military personnel, friends and families. One of those present was the
nephew of one of the six men killed.
The Mayor of Cheshire East,
Councillor George M. Walton, welcomed those present and later unveiled the
Next came two short
addresses, one from Councillor Michael Jones, Leader of Cheshire East
Council and the second from Mr Des Curtis, Chairman of the Royal Engineers
Association, Crewe Branch.
The memorial stone was
dedicated by the Mayor’s Chaplain, the Rev Canon Michael Walters,in a short
service. Wreaths were laid by several organisations and concluding comments
were given by Councillor Dorothy Flude, Deputy Mayor of Cheshire East.
The Last Post and Reveille
were sounded by a bugler from the Co-operative Band.
The Manager of Alvaston Hall
Hotel, Mr Terry Sterling, invited all those present to enjoy a tea at the
The names of the six men who died are
recorded on the memorial stone which can be viewed at any time at the
entrance to Alvaston Hall.